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Little Donkey at AvondaleBricksGallery
Enjoy tapas from Little Donkey, Wine Tasting by Athens Imports, Art Exhibition Opening. $15. Friday, November 30, 5-9 p.m.
Visit us during the Avondale/Forest Park Holiday Crafts Bazaar at Avondale Bricks Gallery, 130 41st Street South in Avondale. Must be 21 for wine tasting.
Write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or questions. Thank you for joining the Revolution in Avondale.
Saturday saw the return of a behemoth of the Birmingham sports world – Charity Mudbowl. Okay, so it’s the younger sister tournament of the biggest Ultimate (Frisbee) tournament in Alabama, Mudbowl. And you probably haven’t heard of Mudbowl either. In fact, there’s a good chance you don’t even know what Ultimate is. So you might be surprised to find that there is a substantial subculture that has a foothold in our city.
Ultimate – a sport played with a disc (a Frisbee to the layperson… isn’t being pretentious fun?) – combines elements of football, basketball, and soccer into a distinct and fun game of fast breaks and huge throws, called hucks. Zone defense, layouts, sky-high catches, and Callahans (kind of like a safety, it’s when a defender intercepts a pass in the opponents endzone for a score) are some highlights of an exciting, fast-paced game that athletes and fans from all walks of life can appreciate. Precision passing and methodical movement are essential for more competitive levels, levels of skill that all sports enthusiasts can a enjoy and respect.
Ultimate is played on a field laid out much like a football field, 70 yards long with two endzones 25 yards deep with a width of 40 yards. Each team puts seven “on the line” (you start at your endzone before the pull, which is like a kickoff). The disc is moved by throwing it from person to person, with the holder of the disc unable to move. You score by throwing it to a person into the endzone – kind of like football with no running game.
BUDA (Birmingham Ultimate Disc Association) is the governing body for Ultimate in Birmingham. BUDA sponsors annual summer and winter leagues as well as men’s and women’s traveling teams. Summer League 2010 is comprised of 16 teams with rosters of 20 players. Lawyers and writers, doctors and teachers, businesspersons, the unemployed, writers, bankers, pastors, and more. People with football backgrounds, basketball, baseball, soccer, and no athletic background at all.
Charity Mudbowl is indicative of this diverse population of Ultimate in Birmingham. 8 teams participated: BE & K, Jim ‘N’ Nicks, Alabama Power, Regions, Merrill Lynch/BBVA Compass, Redeemer/Mountain Brook Community Churches, UAB, and Southern Progress.
Held at George Ward Park, games were fun and competitive. Each team played 3 pool games with the top 2 from each advancing to the semifinals. BE&K played UAB while RCC/MBCC matched up against Merrill Lynch/BBVA Compass with BE&K and RCC/MBCC advancing to the finals.
RCC/MBCC emerged as the victors defeating defending-champion BE&K 13-11 in an exciting and competitive game throughout. RCC/MBCC led at the half 7-6. BE&K came roaring out of the gates, taking the first 3 points following halftime. RCC/MBCC tied the game at 10, then again at 11. Intense defense dominated the last two points, but it was the church-folk who came out on top.
All-in-all the day was great. Good spirit (that’s what we hippies like to call attitude and sportsmanship), good play, and good fun was displayed by most of the participants. But more important than the “Mudbowl” part of the tournament was the charity. All the money raised went to support Pathways.
2010 Pathways Mud Bowl Sponsors
Title Sponsor: Regions Bank
Platinum Sponsor: Southern Progress Corporation
BE&K / KBR
Mountain Brook Community Church and Redeemer Community Church
Robinson Fast Tax Service
Lunch Sponsor: Jim ‘N Nick’s
Total raised: $8,500
According to an employee, "Pathways will be able to provide 586 days of shelter and meals for the homeless women and children of Birmingham. That means 20 women and children in need will get the basics they need for a month, thanks to your support for Pathways. Our mission is to end homelessness for women and children through hospitality, housing, and hope. With your support, which represents the communities we live and work in, Pathways will continue to grow and serve those in need.”
Cheers to a great day full of sports, fun, and lending a hand! Thanks to all who participated and donated.
Oh, and come play Ultimate. It’s super fun.
Cliff Lee spurned the aggressive advances of the Yankees and the sweet seduction of the Rangers for a little brotherly love. While the Rangers and the Yankees appeared to be the top 2, in fact the only 2, contenders to land Lees services for the 2011 season and beyond. According to many sources, whoever sweetened the deal with a 7th year would have the inside track to land Lee.
Then, out of nowhere, at the proverbial eleventh hour, the Phillies swooped in and sunk their battleships. The Phillies offered Lee a 5 year/$120 million contract with an option of a 6th year. A sizeable sum, in fact it would be the 5th highest contract for a free agent pitcher ever, but smaller than the Rangers 6 year/$138 million with a vesting option for a 7th year at $23 million, and much smaller than the Yankees 7 year/$154 million offer.
According to ESPN.coms Jerry Crasnick, Lee's deal includes $107.5 million in salary, a $12.5 million buyout and a $27.5 million vesting option that kicks in if he pitches 200 innings in 2015 or a combined 400 innings during the 2014-2015 seasons.
That means Lee is leaving about $30 million on the table. That's incredible at all, much less considering the pay-for-play (to borrow the term) culture of professional sports today. The past few years its been all about the individual and the money the individual can make. This is clearly about more than money. This is about winning. This is about going back to a place where both he and his family felt comfortable.
Lee said that he never truly wanted to leave in the first place. The Phillies traded Lee in the offseason for fear that they couldn't resign him. Instead, they waited and pulled off an enormous coup in landing Lee a second time.
Lee joins a Phillies staff with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels that has collected Cy Youngs and World Series MVPs like they are baseball cards, giving the Phillies rotation a chance to be one of the greatest of all time, challenging to join the ranks of the great Braves rotation of the 90s, the Orioles of the early 70s, and the Tigers of the 40s.
Will they do it? We'll soon find out. But that much firepower on offense and depth in the rotation, plus National League competition, seems to put the odds in the Phillies favor. Bad news for the Braves and the rest of the league.
The first BCS rankings of the year were released yesterday. And to no one’s surprise the No. 1 team was … Oklahoma? You mean the team that barely beat Utah State? The same team that barely beat Air Force – who, coincidentally, lost to the mighty Aztecs of San Diego State on Saturday? Yep, that team. I get that they beat the crap out of Florida State. And they beat Texas; well, so did a questionable UCLA team. I just don’t understand the logic. The BCS continually defies my, albeit limited, comprehension.
Here we have Oregon, the unanimous No. 1 in both polls (which comprise two-thirds of this mad scientist’s experiment) coming in at No. 2 in the BCS because some computers decided they were only the 7th best team in the country. I don’t get it. It seems like the Ducks should be statistical crack to the computers. Oregon is 1st in Scoring (points scored) and 16th and scoring defense (points allowed). That’s pretty nice. The Oregon offense has amassed 326 points on the season, never scoring less than 42 in any single game. The defense has only allowed 98 points. That’s an average margin of victory of 38 points per game. The closest game they have played all season was a 42-31 affair at Arizona State.
Now Oklahoma. They are 17th in scoring and 28th in scoring defense. They beat the aforementioned Utah State, Air Force, plus the Cincinnati Bearcats by a combined 12 points. I don’t get it. I understand that beating the crap out of Florida State who is ranked 17th in the BCS and a very, very shaky Texas team who sits at 19th in the BCS, helps the Sooners strength of schedule and eye test and whatever else you want to throw at me. But shouldn’t the sloppy, less impressive wins hurt you comparatively? I guess the computers have a Big Name recognition program. (They’ll probably just lose in a BCS game anyway).
I just can’t fathom how the computers can be so down on Oregon and so high on an Oklahoma team. Or how they can even put the Sooners ahead of high-flying Boise State Broncos. Now, no one is harder on said Broncos than me, but raw statistical has to be highly in favor of the boys from Boise. That “strength of schedule” algorithm or equation, or whatever they use, must be highly weighted in the computer rankings, and highly weighted towards Oklahoma.
Ah well, call me old fashioned, but I think the BCS should be scrapped. Give me the bowls any day over this half-guessing, half-scientific and completely ludicrous method. At least I know the bowls are built upon tradition. They’re fun. The pageantry is second to none. They’re college football. And they’re honest about the ambiguity. They don’t try to announce to the world that they have definitively given me a national champion.
The BCS only “works” when things completely outside of the BCS’ power falls into place (i.e. only 2 undefeated teams). Basically, it’s luck. It’s the worst of the bowls with none of the equality of a playoff.
Or…here’s a crazy idea. Let’s add a plus-1 or an 8-team playoff. At least give us a Final Four. Don’t get rid of the bowls. Use the BCS bowls. That’s a great set-up. Use the championship game as the plus-1. You still have the Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar Bowls in tact. Plus the myriad of other bowls. It’s great. I can’t understand the logic against it. But again, my comprehension skills are rather limited.
Well, that’s enough time spent on my soapbox. Besides, this is a mess that doesn’t look like it will be cleaned up any time soon. Thanks TV contracts.
It was a big week for the Auburn Tigers. Last Saturday, the No. 1 ranked Tigers handled the No. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, held annually at the Georgia Dome. Auburn won the game decisively, 56-17.
Cameron Newton and Nick Fairley grabbed some hardware for the trophy case. Fairley won the Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman. Fairley was able to join his line coach Tracy Rocker, who took home the award in 1988, as the only Tigers to win. The Associated Press named Fairley as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Fairley was also a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player.
Nick Fairley and teammate Lee Ziemba were named to the Football Writers Association of America’s All-American team. Notoriously absent from the FWAA’s list was Cam Newton. I think he’ll manage.
Newton has had a clean sweep during the award season taking home the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top QB and the Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards for the nation’s most outstanding player.
But the crown jewel of all is the Heisman Trophy. Newton received this most coveted hardware on Saturday in New York. Cam joined Pat Sullivan (1971) and Bo Jackson (1985) in the school’s Heisman club. Newton won the award in a landslide. He received the 6th most first place votes and the 3rd highest percentage in the history of the award, despite being completely left off of 105 ballots.
All was not perfect in New York, however. Newton’s father, Cecil, did not make the journey to the award ceremony amidst the cloud of scrutiny swirling around him after the NCAA’s ruling that he was involved in shopping around his son’s services. This did not prevent Cam from standing up and speaking firmly about his father. In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Fowler Newton expressed adamant pride and love for his father, stating that at the end of the day, he knows his father has his best interest at heart.
Now Newton and the Tigers prepare for their greatest challenge, the Oregon Ducks and the national championship game.
Auburn got some good news heading towards the game, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn turned down an opportunity to become the head coach of Vanderbilt. Malzahn also added to the Tigers’ trophy case, winning the Browles award as the nation’s top assistant coach.
The Tigers look to finish off their dream season with a win in the National Championship game, January 10th against the Oregon Ducks.
Cam Newton is cleared to play. The NCAA ruled Wednesday that his eligibility is no longer in question. Auburn is in no danger of forfeiting wins. And both are cleared to proceed without impunity or condition for the rest of the season.
From NCAA V.P. for Academic and Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon: "Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement. From a student-athlete reinstatement perspective, Auburn University met its obligation . . . Under this threshold, the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible."
Auburn AD Jay Jacobs released a statement Wednesday acknowledging the NCAA for its thoroughness and fairness, and of course ruling in their favor. “We are pleased that the NCAA has agreed with our position that Cam Newton has been and continues to be eligible to play football at Auburn University. We appreciate the diligence and professionalism of the NCAA and its handling of this matter," said Jacobs.
While Cam is cleared, Cecil maybe not so much. It was decided that Cecil did act improperly but did so without Cam’s or Auburn’s knowledge.
Cam and the Tigers prepare to face the South Carolina Gamecocks this Saturday in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. The title game is a rematch of September 25th meeting in which Auburn won 35-27. But Auburn was playing at home, and South Carolna did have the Tigers down 20-7. So the rematch should be interesting. It’s never easy to beat a team twice in one season.
Well, it seems to fit the Jeopardy! m.o—an answer in the form of a question. Many questions, actually. How do T.O. and Ochocinco co-exist? Where does the renewed Cedric Benson fit in (if he isnt suspended)? What about Antonio Bryant? Is T.O. actually good anymore? Can Carson Palmer cope with all the attitude and attention?
Only time will tell. If nothing else, there will certainly be a lot to tell. Shenanigans and hoop-la will be in high gear, of that I'm certain. The T.O. Ochocinco tandem will be exciting to watch, on and off the field.
The Bengals won the AFC North last year. Thats right sports fans, those Bengals. They beat out the defending-champion Steelers (who didnt even make the playoffs) and perennial division powerhouse Ravens to swipe one of the most hotly contested and competitive divisions in football. Its just not normally them competing. And not only did they compete they dominated, sweeping the division (6-0).
In a division always ruled by defense, the Bengals fit right in last season. They were ranked in the top ten against both the pass and the run 6th and 7th, respectively. And all of that was without some key players for most of the season. DE Antwan Odom (you might remember him from his days at Alabama) and LB Keith Rivers missed the majority of the season. DT Tank Williams was hampered by a foot injury all season. Safety Roy Williams was in and out of the lineup more times than he had tackles it seems. Nonetheless, they are a strong unit led by LB Dhani Jones in the middle. The 2010 version should be even better if it can stay healthy.
With a defense that kept the team in most ball games last year, consistently forcing turnovers in key situations, the Bengals showed a new side to the NFL and everyone else watching. They ran the ball and did it well. The hitherto underachieving Cedric Benson exploded for 1,251 yards, scoring 6 times. And he did it all in 13 games. Add in backup Benard Scott who is a speedy, explosive back that offers an excellent change-of-pace option, plus that solid defense, and you have a recipe for success.
The question was the passing attack. What had been the Bengals strong suit in the past, behind the arm of Carson Palmer and a flashy core of receivers, the Bengals ranked a kitten-like 26th in the NFL last season. Enter Terrell Owens.
He used to be a physically dominating presence on the field, a great deep threat that was strong enough to cross the middle of the field as well. While he is still physically impressive on the sidelines and in front of the camera, his numbers on the field are not. Catching only 55 passes for 829 yards last season, T.O. had the worst season of his NFL career since he was a rookie way back in 1996 (barring the injury shortened season of 2005 when he only played 7 games). But hey, perhaps that is due to the horrid QB situation in Buffalo. But T.O. seems to create terrible QB situations.
So why add a guy like that to the Bengals who are finally on the upswing? Well, they have almost no depth and experience at wide receiver for starters. Chad Eight-five is pretty much the only established receiver besides new signee Antonio Bryant, who didn't exactly light it up down in Tampa. Carsons got to have someone to throw the damn ball to, right?
And for some reason, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals are very adept at handling some of those over-the-top diva personalities (e.g. Cedric Benson, Chris Henry, and Ochocinco).
Maybe T.O. can be Batman to Ochocincos Robin (Chads choice). It should be exciting to watch anyway. Youre fall reality show is set.
Current Alabama and Auburn players on the Bengals roster include DT Pat Sims (Auburn), OL Andre Smith (Alabama), DE Antwan Odom (Alabama), and OL Evan Mathis (Alabama).
But this week, Ingram was back and healthy and ready to go. After being cleared to play, Coach Nick Saban placed Ingram back in his familiar spot as the starter. It didn’t take Ingram long to remind people why he is the starter and the defending Heisman winner. On his first carry, Ingram broke loose for a 48-yard run down the sideline. Granted he was running against Duke’s porous defense, but Ingram came out on fire. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark on his first three carries, busting a 50-yard run after his 48-yard first touch (there was a short run in between, but not nearly as fun).
On the day Ingram carried the ball 9 times for 151 yards, reaching the endzone twice. It looked like he was playing against high schoolers. He was simply too strong, too quick, and too fast for Duke’s defenders. The only one capable of stopping him on Saturday was Saban, who limited him to only 9 carries.
The final score was 62-13, Alabama winning in a landslide. This was the most points Alabama has scored in a single game since Zach Morris was ordering pizza during school with his backpack-sized cell phone (just shy of two decades). The champs and Ingram look impressive in the early going as they look to repeat.
Congratulations Boise State, you basically beat Hoover High School 59-0 (actually, I’m not so sure Hoover wouldn’t beat New Mexico State). That’s the key here. The “marquee” team that they beat at the beginning of the season is a Virginia Tech team that lost the following week, at home, to James Madison. Scratch that one off your strength of schedule list Boise. Marquee win number 2? Oregon State.
Thanks to the magical wonderland, where double rainbows soar like a flock of seagulls, known as the interwebs, unimportant and nerdy people like me have access to a font of statistical analysis that allow us to sound far smarter than we really are. Let’s give a little head-to-head, anonymous comparison.
Overall FBS Rankings
Team 1: Passing – 29th (255.6 ypg); Rushing – 23rd (214.0 ypg); Scoring– 4th (44.6 ppg); Scoring Defense – 45th (21.4 ppg)
Team 2: Passing – 95th (173.8 ypg); Rushing – 27th (207.6 ypg); Scoring – 48th (31.0 ppg); Scoring defense – 54th (22.2 ppg)
Team 3: Passing – 87th (185.8 ypg); Rushing – 92nd (121.0 ypg); Scoring– 60th (27.8 ppg); Scoring Defense – 95th (30.8 ppg)
Team 4: Passing – 9th (301.2 ypg); Rushing – 56th (167.6 ypg); Scoring– 31st (34.6 ppg); Scoring Defense – 68th (24.4 ppg)
Both Oregon and Boise State have played, and beaten 2 of these teams. They are arguably each team’s best – in terms of impressing the pollsters – wins. One of these teams played Team 1 and Team 4, while the other played Team 2 and Team 3. Now remember, both teams won. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. As you can tell, statistically speaking, the team that beat teams 1 and 4 has the far more impressive ‘impressive’ wins. Now let’s look head-to-head.
Team 5: Passing – 12th (297.8 ypg); Rushing – 18th (229.3 ypg); Scoring– 3rd (45.0 ppg); Scoring Defense – 15th (15.0 ppg)
Team 6: Passing – 42nd (238.2 ypg); Rushing – 2nd (331.0 ypg); Scoring– 1st (56.6 ppg); Scoring Defense – 15th (15.0 ppg)
Pretty close. Team 5 is definitely more balanced. But Team 6 is extremely far ahead of Team 1 in rushing as far as actual yards per game. Plus there are ahead in the two most important categories – points scored and points allowed.
Okay, enough for anonymity. It’s just confusing.
Team 1: Stanford
Team 2: Virginia Tech
Team 3: Oregon State
Team 4: Arizona State
Team 5: Boise State
Team 6: Oregon
Based on this raw data that I arbitrarily pulled out of mid-air (or ESPN.com), I can’t see how you would argue in favor of Boise State. Oregon has put up more impressive numbers against much better competition. I understand that Boise State can’t control Virginia Tech being overrated; when they scheduled them, it looked impressive. And they are stuck, for now, with their soft WAC schedule. But the fact still remains that Oregon has played and beaten teams week-in-and-week-out that are much stronger than anything on Boise’s schedule. And Oregon has basically scored a point for every minute that they’ve played this season. That’s pretty freaking cool.
Jumping Oregon over Boise isn’t so much a punishment for Boise State as it is a reward for Oregon. Does this mean the Boise State couldn’t beat Oregon? Of course not. If you remember, Boise actually beat Oregon in the first game of last season. But that’s just it. That was last season. And the only reason that Boise was ahead of Oregon anyway is due to an arbitrary preseason poll that was based upon what people thought would happen. The new polls are based upon what hashappened.
Which leads me to my real point. Get rid of preseason polls. They don’t do anything good. They build up hype, creating artificial scenarios where one team will get screwed and another will reap undo rewards.
So far it seems like the only teams that are living up to their ranking are Alabama and Ohio State. Alabama is definitely the number 1 team in the nation, and Ohio State looks like a very solid, impressive number 2.
Well, it’s not quite 1.000 bowls. But hey, it’s not a week either. I do love me some Capital One Bowl Week, though. One of the best “weeks” in the year began December 18th this year and ends January 9th of next year. 3 weeks and 28 bowls—that’s a heck of a week. And that doesn’t even include the BCS bowls.
A lot of folks these days are complaining about how there are too many bowls. Others like to complain about some of the ridiculous names of said bowls, such as the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman (in which zero of the academies are playing), the GoDaddy.com bowl, or the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. My personal favorite is the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl. Mmmm, football.
Some complain that the excessive number of bowls cheapens the meaning and tradition of each bowl as well as college football as a whole. These naysayers argue that with each addition, it cheapens the pride and pageantry of earning a spot at a bowl game. Well, not to the teams involved. And you can’t tell me the good folks at Temple (8-4) aren’t wishing for another bowl.
Going to a bowl game can do wonders for a program like Temple. It does wonders for teams like Mississippi State. It does wonders for teams like Alabama and Auburn. Ask USC if they’d like to be in a bowl game right now. When not being able to go to a bowl game is one of the strongest punishments a team can receive, it’s a pretty big deal. Recruiting, exposure, and overall prestige can all be boosted drastically by a bowl appearance.
And you know what else? They’re fun. It’s a great way to finish a season. People all across the country have printed out bowl sheets, joined online groups, and created office pools (without money of course…that would be illegal). Who cares if every team that is eligible goes to a bowl? It’s great for college football. It’s great for the teams. It’s great for you and me. Quit your complaining and let them play. So I say bring on the bowls and, to borrow a phrase from Brent Musberger, “Let the good times roll!”